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The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future - by Andrew Pickering

British cybernetics, despite its modest practical applications, had a significant role in promoting a way of understanding and acting in the world which was substantially different from what is considered modern science. This is the underlying argument of Andrew Pickering’s The Cybernetic Brain, a book which culminates a 12-year research project and reinforces the main theses of his celebrated The Mangle of Practice. The setting of Pickering’s new book is the work of four rather unknown British cyberscientists – Grey Walter, Ross Ashby, Stafford Beer and Gordon Pask – who started their careers in the late 1940s and actively participated in the cultural environment of the 1960s. Ontology, Pickering argues, ‘makes the difference’ in this story, given that the approach to scientific problems of these four actors challenged a foundational assumption of modernity: the priority of positive knowledge in our dealings with the world.